Khoollect explores: the ultimate guide to Chester, England

***Rachel Khoo would like to thank all the inspiring people who helped make the Khoollect studio a hive of creativity. Although the Khoollect studio’s doors have now closed, you can keep up with Rachel’s newest adventures on and on Rachel’s Instagram and Facebook pages – and, continue to enjoy the Khoollect website’s stories and recipes, which will remain available.***

Scrumptious Sacketts is a blog and food-oriented haven run by two talented sisters with an unwavering desire to share their food-oriented adventures. Here, Hayley and Lydia share the secrets of their hometown, Chester, with Khoollect:

We are Hayley and Lydia, two sisters with a passion for cooking, eating and writing about our foodie adventures. We started our blog to share our love of cooking good, honest homemade food. So many of our dishes come from a place of nostalgia as they were what we were brought up on and still make regularly to this day. Building on this foundation, we think that one of the most exciting things about cooking is food discovery and we love experimenting with new flavours, trying out new recipes and eating out at foodie hotspots. We love to travel too and sampling the local cuisine is high on our priority list so we can come back full of inspiration and can try to re-create dishes back at home.

However, finding inspiration on our doorstep is a no-brainer and being born and bred in Chester, we are slightly biased but we think it is a pretty cool place to come and visit, especially for the food scene. It has been hard to whittle this list down to include all our favourite places to go, but we have selected a few of our highlights and would like to share with you our guide to ‘A weekend in Chester’, where to eat and drink and how to fill your day in between.

Chester is an enchanting city, steeped in Roman history. Even if you just visit Chester to take advantage of its great shopping, you couldn’t pick a more picturesque city to do it in with its cobbled lined streets, chequered black and white buildings and unique shopping rows.  Walk the ancient walls that surround the city and snap a picture of the beautiful Eastgate Clock which is the second most photographed clock in the UK, after Big Ben. Chester is home to the oldest racecourse still in use in England, the largest Roman Amphitheatre in Britain and has a thousand-year-old Cathedral.

Coffee shops to visit:

  • The Flower Cup, Chester
    Buy a bunch of flowers for a loved one or to treat yourself to them at The Flower Cup, which has the added bonus of being a café too. What could be better than having the amazing, heady smells of roasted coffee beans and perfumed Italian flowers combined? So take the time to browse around the florist and re-fuel on their proper Italian coffee.

Food to devour:

  • Atina Kitchen, Chester
    You could eat here for breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner if you wanted to. Atina is a cute and quirky family run restaurant featuring Italian cuisine with contemporary British twists. For breakfast and brunch they have all your savoury favourites and hang-over cures and also something for your sweet tooth too. In the evening, choose between classic Italian dishes like Nonna’s braised beef shin lasagna or go for something with more of a Middle Eastern meets British influence. Their chocolate and pistachio semifreddo with a charred marshmallow is also to die for.
  • Hanky Panky Pancakes, Chester
    We would urge anyway who loves pancakes to come here and who doesn’t love pancakes?! Choose from a savoury crepe, a sweet crepe or create a stack of scotch pancakes. The stack pancakes are very exciting, you can choose a topping, an ice cream and a sauce; the combinations and possibilities are endless. With their friendly staff to help guide you through the process, you can soon begin to create the pancake of your dreams.
  • The Cheshire Sandwich Shop, Chester
    If you are planning to eat your lunch down at the River Dee, why not pick up a sandwich at the really friendly Cheshire Sandwich Shop. They have a huge selection of sandwiches all using Cheshire produce.  We usually go for the ‘War of the Roses’ sandwich, a combination of crumbly Lancashire and Wensleydale cheeses. You can also eat in too.
  • Davenport’s Tea Rooms, Northwich
    If it’s afternoon tea that you are after in an idyllic, rural farm location, then look no further than Davenport’s Tea Room for their multi-award winning afternoon teas. Take a seat at the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party; the tearoom’s quirky interior has painted Alice in Wonderland wall murals, eccentric wallpaper, chess sets and glass cabinets filled with jostling china teacups and saucers. Start off by choosing your tea – there is a mind-blowing amount to choose from, catering for whether you are a weak, medium or strong tea drinker. Then your array of cakes and sandwiches come out beautifully arranged on a three-tier cake stand and are followed by freshly baked, warm scones with clotted cream and jam. All the cakes are either made on site or from local producers and they cater for coeliacs too. Pop into their farm shop after your afternoon tea for a browse of their local produce and maybe buy some more cake for later?! 
  • Sticky Walnut, Chester
    In the popular and up-and-coming area of Hoole, now nick-named ‘Notting Hoole’ you will find the truly delightful Sticky Walnut. This cosy bistro is full of romantic charm with stripped floorboards, wooden candlelit tables and chef’s aprons adorning the walls. Flavoursome, simple, fresh and rustic dishes are what you’ll find here. The menu changes regularly and they’re not afraid to utilise offal and more unusual cuts. All dishes are consistently high quality and made with lots of imagination. Sticky Walnut has enjoyed huge success since it opened in 2011, including being named AA Restaurant of the Year in 2014 and being named one of The Guardian food critic Marina O’Loughlin’s 50 favourite UK restaurants.
  • The Chef’s Table, Chester
    You really have to book ahead to get a seat at the multi award-winning Chef’s Table. One of Chester’s food gems, The Chef’s Table is a small restaurant on Music Hall Passage.  You can see the chefs preparing your meal in the open kitchen and watch envious on-lookers through the wall of long glass windows walk past; the whole chic and open plan layout screams that they have nothing to hide. Every meal we have had here the food has been exceptional and looks like art on a plate. So if you are looking for that something a little extra special with added theatre, both on and off the plate, then we would recommend here.
  • Little Tap, Tarporley
    Little Tap is a new concept bar and restaurant for Tarporley, who specialise in a wide selection of small plates, craft beers (which are regularly changed) as well as gins and wine so it’s no wonder this is a bustling place for people to come and eat and drink. The exposed brick, filament light bulbs, wooden crates used as shelves and cool prints give this place a quirky, trendy vibe – and somewhere you feel quite at home.  The menu is made up of small plates and sides using seasonal, local produce which changes every six to eight weeks, keeping the dishes fresh and creative.  We love this sort of dining because if like us, you always have trouble deciding what you want on a menu, the idea of being able to have multiple dishes without looking greedy is a winner! The original and inventive dishes paired with the exciting selection of drinks leaves you filled with anticipation for what they will add to the menu next. This is certainly a place to visit if you enjoy seasonal, locally sourced food in a friendly and lively environment. 
  • Porta Tapas, Chester
    If you are lucky enough to be blessed with a sunny summer’s evening, go to Porta and sit outside and watch the world go by, it will almost feel like you are in Barcelona! It’s a tiny place with such a nice relaxed atmosphere. Here they offer Spanish style tapas, quite simple dishes but the taste is incredible. A highlight of ours is their delicious salt blistered pardon peppers and make sure you leave room for their sumptuous chocolate mousse with honeycomb (we advise you don’t share these!) Wash everything down with their special red Spanish vermouth topped with cava and served with a slice of orange.

Drinks to imbibe:

It's that time of the week again…

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  • The Botanist, Chester
    Located just by Chester Cathedral is The Botanist cocktail bar where bicycles, antiques and trinkets hang from the ceilings. The cocktail menu there is fantastic, there’s so many to choose from and each have a botanical twist to them. It is there that we discovered the absolutely delicious and aromatic raspberry and thyme martini.  To get you in the mood for your night out, they also have fantastic live music.
  • The Pheasant Inn, Burwardsley
    If it’s a drink with a view that you want, then you must go to The Pheasant Inn.  The pub is located along the popular Sandstone Trail, a 55km walk which stretches from Frodsham to Whitchurch so if you are a keen walker then this is a great place for a pit-stop.  It is full of English country character with low-slung beams and big open fire places so is perfect for cosying up after those brisk winter walks or cooling off with a beer on their terrace with that view in the summer.   
  • The Cholmondeley Arms, Cholmondeley
    The Cholmondeley Arms (pronounced Chum-ley) is set in the beautiful Cheshire countryside and neighbouring gothic Cholmondeley Castle. The pub is a converted Victorian village schoolhouse and this has been retained through the interior décor with open fire places, blackboards and old sports equipment. Food is served all day and includes all your British classics with a focus on using locally sourced ingredients. You must come if you love your G&Ts; the pub is famous for offering over 300 different gins and often holds gin tasting evenings and an annual ‘Gin Fest’ event in July. Also, if you end up sampling too many of those 300 gins then the pub also has six en-suite bedrooms situated in the ‘Headmasters House’ opposite.
  • Ginger, Chester
    Ginger wine bar and deli was set up by two lovely ladies who followed their dream to open a place where people could wind down and relax over a glass of wine and some nibbles with friends. They cook almost everything themselves using family recipes and everything they source is local.  We especially love their pate selection board.

Local produce picks:

  • The Cheese Shop, Chester
    As avid cheese lovers, we frequent this shop a lot. Think old-fashioned sweet shop but for cheese, complete with everything you need to build your perfect cheeseboard! The shop contains all your classic European cheeses but champions UK cheese. Some of our favourites include obviously, Mrs Appleby’s Cheshire; crumbly, clean and creamy and goes really well with chutney. Crabtree, a fruity and creamy cheese made to an alpine recipe using unpasteurised cow’s milk. Celtic Promise, which is a delicious cheese washed in cider and made in Wales. The cheese has a soft buttery texture with a pungent aroma and but a delicate mild flavour. For our blue cheese we choose Shropshire Blue which has a lovely creamy taste to it.
  • Snugbury’s Ice Cream, Nantwich
    A family-run business with sisters Kitty, Hannah and Cleo now at the helm, Snugbury’s makes all of its ice cream on the farm including its delicious flavour additions like chocolate brownies and Christmas pudding made to a Delia Smith recipe! Our favourite flavours are honeycomb and baby fig with orange blossom honey. And you don’t need to worry about missing the turning along the A51 when finding Snugbury’s, they have humongous straw sculptures in the field outside which have included Peter Rabbit, a Dalek and a Velodrome to name a few, they really are a sight to behold!
  • Walk Mill, Waverton
    Down a long drive surrounded by wheat fields dancing in the wind like waves on the sea, lies Walk Mill.  For a taste of Roman history, learning about the milling process and sampling some superb baked goods, head over to Walk Mill. Although the mill is now a fairly new building, there has been a water mill on the site for centuries and it was originally a fuller’s mill. In the viewing gallery, you can see the water wheel in action and watch it grind the wheat grains grown in the surrounding fields into flour. They do a selection of really tempting cakes and of course bread in their welcoming ‘Miller’s Kitchen’ cafe. After a walk along the River Gowy, tuck into a buttered, freshly baked roll and bowl of homemade soup. You can also buy bags of Walk Mill flour as a souvenir to take home with you.   

Shops to peruse:

  • Arbol House, Chester
    Arbol House stocks a fabulous range of furniture inspired by retro and industrial styles. Each product is personally selected by the owner so you’ll always find something a little different or unique. You’ll find contemporary lights, beautiful cushions, cool typography prints, fantastic table and bar accessories from mainly from Scandinavia and vases made from recycled glass from Spain.
  • And Albert, Chester
    Such a lovely little shop that sells world-wide ethically traded nick-nacks and gifts, tucked away within the rows on Eastgate street in Chester. It’s a bit of an Aladdin’s cave for trinkets, reclaimed furniture, table and glassware, scarves, cushions, throws, rugs, art, jewellery and ceramics.
  • Hoity Toity Shoes, Tarporley
    Tarporley high street is a great to stroll down and browse all the boutique shops.  Take a peek in Hoity Toity, a unique shoe boutique containing carefully selected designer shoe brands rarely found outside of London, New York and Milan. We especially love the shoes from up and coming Cheshire born designer Alexander White.


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